Day #75 – Philadelphia, PA to North Wildwood, NJ

May 28, 2918

Distance: 96 miles (total: 5,201 miles)
I’m writing this from the comfort of my home 10 days after the finale of my trip. Word on the street is people are curious as to why I waited so long to finish up the blog. I apologize for making you wait this long, but I wanted to make sure I did not short you or myself by not putting in my full effort into the piece. I also wanted to have a better idea of what feelings and takeaways from the trip would stick around for the extended future before rushing to conclusions of how the experienced changed me. Lastly, the built up exhaustion seemed to hit me like a ton of bricks when I finished, to the point that I had no interest in spending time thinking back to day 1 to understand how far I have come.

After meeting up with my cousin Eric and several good friends from Penn State in Philadelphia, I headed out for the last 100 miles.  The trip was relatively uneventful except I met up with my dad at Fran and Faith McGorry’s beach home in Ocean City, NJ.  It was great to see Fran and Faith who supported me during my journey.  Even more special, was I got to ride the last 25 miles with my dad.  During the weeks before I started out in LA, my dad and I took a two day journey on our bikes south to San Diego.  It was nice starting and finishing with him.

I can’t figure out a way to not begin by saying how much this trip made me appreciate certain aspects of my life. When I think back to how alone I felt at certain times of the trip, I understand now how much I should value being surrounded by wonderful people in my life. It goes without saying that my family could not be more supportive of me, but I also value my relationships with friends and co-workers more than ever. It’s the biggest reason why I’m glad I completed this trip solo, even though I may not have put much thought to it before leaving LA. My lowest moments during the trip strongly correlated with being alone, but if it wasn’t for those low moments I wouldn’t feel the same appreciation for the high moments. That’s why I can’t thank you enough for following my trip, sending me your support, and keeping me in your thoughts over the last 75 days.

I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that I now appreciate having a home more after spending this much time on the road. During my 74 nights on the road, I slept in 67 different places and typically didn’t know where that place would be until the day I arrived. Though some of the friendliest people I have ever met opened their homes to me, there’s nothing like being settled into one place you can call home. Sorry, I don’t buy into the idea that home is where you lay your head or home is where your heart is. This aspect of the trip caused the most anxiety for me because of the 180 degree change in lifestyle from what I have been accustomed to the past 23 years of my life. It’s also the biggest reason why I have difficulty promising to myself that I’ll embark on another adventure at some point in my life, but more on that later.

A lack of an established home also meant needing to carry everything I need in two backpack-sized bags for two and a half months. It’s hard not to appreciate the simple life after carrying only the necessities for that duration of time, which leads to one of the biggest changes in my life from prior to leaving LA. As long as my fridge is somewhat full with good food, I’m a happy man. I also don’t own a car and can get anything I need with my bike, such as filling my panniers with enough groceries to last me a week. After wearing the same two outfits almost every day of the trip, I feel comfortable with a small wardrobe to make it work. Though I only have a short time in Wildwood to enjoy this lifestyle, I have no intentions of changing it when I move north to work in New York City.

I began the trip with the idea that I would take a month off of traveling by staying in Wildwood before continuing on more adventures. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the exhaustion from my bike tour will not wear off by the time a month has passed, so I decided to tell the waterpark that I would work for the full summer. It wasn’t a difficult decision because of how much I love working there, but it does mean that I give up my last few months of freedom before beginning the dreaded desk job and adulting. Money also played a factor in going back to work at Morey’s. Though I attempted to be as frugal as possible, having no income will eventually catch up to me. Many of the people I encountered on the trip were curious about the cost of the trip, so I thought I’d explain to you all why my answer to them was that the trip cost much less than I had expected.

Accommodations:
Friends and family: 27 nights
Warmshowers: 11 nights
Fire houses: 1 night
Camping (free): 5 nights
Camping (payment): 20 nights
Hotel or hostel: 10 nights

Until I calculated those numbers, I had no idea that that many friends and family members supported me along the way. I never thought of it as that many because it wasn’t until the end of the trip that I truly benefitted from knowing people in the areas I traveled. These people, along with the wonderful Warmshower hosts, spoiled me each and every time, so I almost never left without receiving at least one free meal as well. I will never say this enough: without the amazing people who hosted me along the way, this trip would not have been possible. In the end, I would estimate that I spent roughly $600 on accommodations throughout the trip.

In terms of food and beverages, I changed very little about what I ate daily except for the automatic yes if I was ever offered dessert. I also added constant snacks throughout the day to help me get through the long days on the saddle. I would estimate I spent approximately $1,400 on food and beverage throughout the trip. However, I would like to point out that I don’t necessarily think of that as a cost of the trip because I would be eating and drinking, regardless if I was on the road or not.

Finally, I spent approximately $200 on gear and bike tune-ups, and $200 on tourism activities such as scuba diving and ferry rides throughout the trip. That brings my estimated trip total to about $2,400 with about $1,000 in costs directly related to the trip. This doesn’t factor in the start-up costs I incurred before leaving LA since I bought most of my gear, but those items still have some value because very few pieces of gear broke during the trip. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if $2,400 or $32 a day is a lot for traveling, but one thing you should keep in mind is how much money I saved by spending $0 on gas.

What’s next? Despite deciding not to travel for the rest of the summer, I still have a few “journey of a lifetime” experiences on my bucket list that I’ll share with you when it comes time to hit the road again. In the meantime, I have no intentions of losing all the endurance I gained from biking 5,201 miles. As many of you know, I asked for support throughout the trip by sharing the Ironman Foundation (Team IMF) and its mission to benefit various local organizations in Maryland, many of which played a role in my childhood. I arrived in North Wildwood having raised $2,795 for Team IMF and I’m excited to say that I’m only $705 away from receiving the opportunity to compete in Ironman Maryland in a September. This is a challenge I’ve been itching to take on for a few years, and thanks to all my followers I will receive the chance to toe the line. That is, if I learn to swim better first. If you would like to play a part, please consider donating to my personal fundraising page (crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2018-ironman-maryland1/jonmuth1).

As much as people think this trip was about taking on the challenge of biking across the country, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the physical challenge played quite a small part in my experience. In the end, I completed the trip successfully because I took a seemingly unfathomable challenge and broke it down into smaller pieces. Coast to coast, state to state, day by day, hour by hour. If I continued to think about how far I still had to go, I would have never made it. To this day, I still can’t comprehend the distance I traveled and I’ll admit l don’t know if I ever will. It’s like I started the trip staring at the puzzle box and now need to put the puzzle together to realize the amount of pieces (thought and effort) required to complete the puzzle from one side to the other.

I’ll admit that I don’t think my trip would be right for everyone, but never try to tell me you couldn’t do it. If you really wanted to hit the road for an adventure, you would find a way to make it work. That’s why I shared my first experience bike touring with you all. It’s the experience that dropped my confidence level so low I didn’t even think I would actually make it to Florida until I rode 2/3 of the way there! I wouldn’t let a disastrous first experience of not being able to ride back from Santa Barbara due to mudslides stop me from eventually leaving the comfort of my parent’s home, and looking back I think you can all agree I would be a different man if I let it hold me back. Imagine how I would feel if I let an “I can’t do this” mentality from holding me back.

My parting words take me back to one of the biggest reasons why I took this adventure. I always felt too cliché to ever mention it any time someone asked me the big “why” on the road. The truth: I learned more about myself in the past 75 days than I ever will in that short time period again. Full stop. Some people call it introspection or self-reflection, but whatever it is I spent a lot of time alone with only my thoughts to entertain me. It’s hard to think back to the person I was before this trip because of how much I grew in the short time period. People say you should never stop learning once you leave the classroom, and this trip taught me things you could never learn at school.

Thank you all for your support and for keeping me company out there on the road.

Prequel

For your enjoyment and because of my procrastination in writing my final post, I wanted to tell you all the story of my first day touring solo, about 2 months before I began this journey. I wrote this back in New Mexico.

I had planned a trip up to San Francisco to visit a friend with the goal of biking back along the coast for a week. I embarked on the journey south on a cool, Monday morning heading to Santa Cruz roughly 95 miles away. There’s mistake #1: thinking I could maintain a 95 mile per day pace right off the bat. You can only imagine the struggle I felt during the day, but I was inexperienced at finding alternative sleeping arrangements and found myself pushing the limits to get to Santa Cruz.

Mistake #2 occurred at lunch time around 3pm after thinking it would be a good idea to live off the energy chews I use in marathons to make it the entire ride. There was not a town in sight so I had to resort to the food I decided to pack with me for this journey: beans and a jar of peanut butter. I left the can of tomatoes for another meal. I quickly learned what food I needed to survive multiple days on the road.

I finally rolled into Santa Cruz and grabbed dinner, only to check my phone to see that the campsite was in fact 7 miles south of town (mistake #3). In the grand scheme of things, I thought nothing of it when I planned the trip. Now, having pushed beyond what I thought was my body’s limit, I couldn’t fathom biking another 7 miles. Even back then I knew my pace would slow and it’d take 45 minutes to get to the campsite. I strapped my dinner into my rear bungee cord and headed south again.

As you might expect, it’s now well past dark. I arrive at the state park to see a hiking trail off the side of the rode with the campground emblem beside it. I make my fourth mistake when I decide this must be where I should be going. I painstakingly lugged my bike up the dirt trail, only to found out when it was light the next morning that, although the trail was the shortest path to the campsite, the road looped around to also arrive at the campground.

I quickly set up camp on the closest available campsite, and start eating my cold dinner. I was then notified of mistake #5 that I was in a hook-up RV spot, and needed to move to the biking spots in the back of the park. I decided to pick up my tent and carry it fully deployed to the back of the park because I was too exhausted to tear it down. I resumed eating my cold dinner and start looking for a shower. “In order to conserve water, one quarter = 2 minutes” read the sign inside the bathroom. Great idea to shorten shower time, but what about the kid who rode 95 miles and never thought to bring quarters with him? (Mistake #6). I try my best to clean myself off in the sink and head to bed.

I found myself on the train heading back home two days later. I enjoy thinking about this story to prove to myself how much I’ve learned over the journey. Of course I still make similar mistakes to the ones I made my first day. The difference is that I don’t get worked up when they occur. I figure out a solution and I get on with the journey, no matter what it takes because there comes a certain point where you can’t imagine turning back anymore.

I also tell you the story to keep my journey in perspective. It had to start somewhere, and I can’t come up with many scenarios in my mind of the first day going worse. The first step is always the hardest, but it’s those who make small efforts day in and day out that make it to the finish line.

Day #74 – York to Philadelphia, PA

May 27, 2018

Distance: 104 miles (total: 5,105 miles)

One more day. A few people have told me they follow my blog, but only every once in a while because the posts are on the longer side. If you have read even one post, thank you for following my journey the past 2.5 months. My intentions were to provide a way for my family and friends to know that I’m safe wherever I am in this country. The blog also served as a way for me to remember a “trip of a lifetime” as people tell me. I was stepping into the unknown by keeping a blog since I’m not much of a writer, but looking back I’m glad I decided to write about my trip.

Jane made a wonderful breakfast in the morning to fuel Paul and me for the day’s ride. Paul, in his late 60s, keep at it by biking every day and showed me off by biking the first 15 miles. I always appreciate when a host wants to bike off with me, it helps break the day up. I made good time because I was excited to arrive in Philly to friends and family, and didn’t take a lunch break until late in the afternoon when I realized I was way ahead of schedule. As usual, I found a pizzeria and ate an entire pie.

The last 25 miles into Philly were on the
Schuylkill River path, and I strolled into town right on time to meet cousin Eric for a beer at a local tap room. We caught up for a while before I headed right around the corner to meet my host for the night, Becca. She’s a friend from Penn State and we were meet a few others for dinner. These friends were some of the many on my trip that made me feel like I was never alone.

Since this will be my last night on the road, I would like to thank my second round of hosts that opened up there homes to me throughout the Atlantic Coast.

Carol and Marty Staniec
Jocelyn Rice
Matt Chambers and Will Davis
Spencer and Lori Johnson
Michael Valania and Jenna Loffredo
Mary Jane and Maury Lorenz
Paul Beaupre
Madeline and Bobby Leech
Richards family
Ray and Melinda Baker
Newport, NC Fire Station
Marielena Balouris
Mantlo family
Terry and Beth Dorn
Deanna and Jess Javage
Delaney family
McQuarrie family
Paul and Jane Fialcowitz
Becca Lerman

That’s 19 groups of people that have shared their space with me for 23 nights total. If you consider that I rode along the Atlantic Coast for 32 days, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the journey as much without their help. Each of them also fed me, so many of you may think I was spoiled throughout this trip, and you’d be right. These 19 groups are the perfect answer for anyone who asks me “did this trip restore your faith in humanity?” I never lost my faith in humanity and thus not a reason I embarked on this trip in the first place. However, the genuine kindness of each person I encountered over the past 74 days really did help me understand that you will find people willing to help you anywhere you go in the world.

Extra: I did a final weight count and surprise! I gained 5 pounds. On average, I burned about 4,000 calories each day I pedaled on top of my typical daily caloric spend. I feel comfortable assuming there’s no way I ate enough calories to have any left overs. I guess my legs got a bit stronger over 5,000 miles, so I’ll toss it up to muscle gain.

Day #74 – York to Philadelphia, PA

May 27, 2018

Distance: 104 miles (total: 5,105 miles)

One more day. I feel that if I blogged in the limited time I have and not catching up with friends and family in Philadelphia would lead to cutting corners and not doing the blog justice. So, I’ve decided to just update you all that I’m doing well and plan to write something tomorrow after I arrive in Wildwood.

Day #73 – Mount Airy, MD to York, PA

May 26, 2018

Distance: 53 miles (total: 5,001 miles)
The big ol’ 5k, the last time I get to cross a thousand mile mark. It sure feels different this time than when I first crossed 1,000 miles heading into Texas.

I left the McQuarrie’s late (on purpose) because I enjoyed every moment of sitting around with friends. I also received a visit from Cyndi Skillings, a friend of my family for a long time. She drove over to catch up in person and give me some food for the road before I headed out of town. It made me realize how much knowing people are reading my posts keeps me going day after day. The blog started out as a way to let my friends and relatives know I’m safe, and now it’s much more than that.

The ride today was beautiful and sure made me earn the fantastic views. Both the hills and the heat drained me despite a relatively short day. The rain held off until few hours after I arrived, but it seems like I’ll get hit tomorrow.

I’m staying at a Warmshower host tonight, Paul and Jane. Paul decided to meet me at the front of the neighborhood and our first interaction was quite peculiar. As I caught up to him, Paul noticed a car racing down the road. Instead of letting them off or even simply yelling at them to slow down, Paul bikes right in front of them and has one of the most intense stare downs I have ever seen. Hollywood couldn’t do this stare down justice. He points and says “you” as the women tries to figure out a way to get her BMW around the handlebar mustache man in front of her. She sped off and I guessed she was doing 40 in a 20 MPH neighborhood, which is apparently a recurring issue.

On a more positive note, I had a wonderful stay with my last Warmshower hosts of the trip. They have traveled 35,000 miles in segments on their tandem bike around the world, especially in Europe. I enjoyed some jackfruit tacos and homemade key lime pie. If that wasn’t enough, Paul decided to take me to the local dairy farm for ice cream since I apparently couldn’t leave town without trying it.

Extra: here are some quick facts about my trip thus far.
Avg. distance (incl. rest days): 68.5 miles
Avg. distance (excl. rest days): 83.4 miles
# of states: 12
Longest day: 140 miles (Silsbee, TX to Opelousas, LA)
Most climbing day: 6,450 ft (Phoenix to Globe, AZ)
Shortest day (that I don’t consider a rest day): 18 miles
Most challenging terrain: Van Horn to Fort Davis, TX
Most deserted stretch: Marathon to Del Río, TX
Most scenic area (two way tie): Emory Pass, NM and Florida Keys

Day #72 – Arlington, DC to Ellicott City, MD

May 24-25, 2018

Distance: 75 miles (total: 4,948 miles)

This distance includes the 18 miles I rode from Ellicott City to Mount Airy, and the short distance made me believe one blog post would suffice for the two days.

A few days of hopping from friend to friend to do some overdue catching up. It makes me forget how completely different my trip has become, so at some point I’ll have to reread these blogs to remember. I left Deanna and Jess after a wonderful breakfast and hit the road for a relatively short day north to Ellicott City. The ride included about 30 miles of bike trail, which allowed me to stay out of the DC traffic and enjoy a quiet ride through the woods. I arrived in Bethesda and realized Honest Tea’s office was a few blocks away, so I made a stop there. Then I had breakfast in town and before I knew it, it was noon and I barely made it out of town.

I decided to push it for a few hours and realized today was not going to be my day. I made more stops than usual despite the shorter distance and arrived to the Delaney’s later than expected. The Delaney’s are my former neighbors in Ellicott City and this was my first time checking out my childhood home since my parents packed up shop and left for California. Though it’s difficult not to miss a place you spent so much time, I don’t think I would be on this trip if they had not moved. Being in LA made it easy to just pedal off from their place and not worry about a cross-country flight. Then there’s the weather if I decided to leave from Ellicott City in March.

The Delaney’s received me with open arms and I enjoyed delicious food and plenty of reminiscing during my stay. I then bike over to Mount Airy to see the McQuarrie’s, who lived across the street in Ellicott City. They happened to pass me on the road about a mile before arriving, and I cursed them for the hills in this part of town. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I hit 40 MPH heading down one of the hills, and that has to be the fastest I have pedaled. The McQuarrie’s also treated me to an incredible night and it makes me want to stick around the area a bit longer. Unfortunately, I made plans and want to stick to them to arrive in Wildwood in two days. TWO DAY! I can’t believe it.

Day #70 – Fredericksburg, VA to Arlington, DC

May 23, 2018

Distance: 86 miles (total: 4,873 miles)
I left Terry and Beth for another long day on the bike, but not before attending their local Rotary club meeting in the morning. It’s somewhat of a requirement for anyone who stays on Tuesdays, and for good reason because I had fun and the breakfast was free. That meant I wouldn’t hit the road until 9:45, which I didn’t realize until halfway through the day that it meant a late arrival into Arlington unless I pushed the pace and didn’t take long breaks. So that’s what I did because I had a few friends waiting for me in DC.

Before I arrived, I came across Kyle from South Africa biking from New York to Jamestown to start the Trans America route to Oregon. He was on day 10 and I happened to be his first bike tourer spotting. I can’t deny that I enjoyed how it made me think of how far I’ve come compared to how far he has to go. He seems like he’ll have no issue with the lows that come with the experience.

I made two quick stops today since I knew I’d need at least some fuel. I grabbed chocolate milk both times because I’m addicted at this point, and cheese sticks one time and a Wawa hoagie the next. Neither were sit down stops so by the time I came to the Mount Vernon trail I needed a break badly. The trail made up the last 18 miles of my day, and it felt great to be off the road and away from the traffic. It was when I stopped for a rest that I met two guys who completed the bike centennial, the first officially recognized bike tour across the US. There was a massive uptick in bike touring in 1976 when a route was planned from Virginia to Oregon (what is now the TransAmerica), and these guys joined in on the fun. Quite the legends.

I arrived in Arlington to meet up with two of my good friends from Penn State, Sara and Tori (codename #1 and #4). We grabbed a drink and pizza while catching up on anything and everything. We then made the quick walk to my host, Deanna, and spent a long night catching up with her as well. At this point I feel like I’m just going around visiting friends, and I’m not complaining.

Day #69 – Richmond to Fredericksburg, VA

May 22, 2018

Distance: 65 miles (total: 4,787 miles)
Short day that was surprisingly desolate on the country roads just a few miles from interstate 95. I received some help from Zac when he drove me out to Ashland to avoid Some Richmond traffic. Sorry I’m not a purist at this point in the trip, I don’t need to see every part of the country (and it was only 15 miles). I made up for it with countless wrong turns. He sings in one of the top a cappella groups in the country, which isn’t just my biased opinion because they have been on BOCA (Best of Collegiate A cappella) several times. We enjoyed swapping a cappella songs in the car ride and now I have Exit 245’s albums downloaded for my ride to DC. For those of you who don’t know, I was in an a cappella group at Penn State.

After spending some time catching up with my mom on the phone in Ashland, I hit the road and didn’t see a legitimate gas station on the route all day until I arrived in Fredericksburg. I decided to go off route for lunch and ended up at a quality pizza place. I usually don’t go for pizza in the middle of the day anymore because it sits like a rock inside me, but I caved today since I had a short day.

I loved the country road ride, but the only exciting moment (if you can call it that) was having to gear down on my triple gear for the first time in almost two months now. There were some nasty short hills that briefly brought me down to my lowest gear.

I rolled into Fredericksburg, a town known for its breweries, and stopped for a glass before meeting up with Beth, my host for the night. She’s two and a half years vegetarian and happened to have Beyond Meat in the fridge, so we hit it off instantly. We also talked about how her son was on Survivor and came in 5th, no big deal. Terry, her husband, came home and we enjoyed an incredible night swapping stories. Another Warm Shower host, another fantastic experience.

Day #68 – Norfolk to Richmond, VA

Distance: 87 miles (total: 4,722 miles)
At this point in the trip, I’ll be honest and admit I don’t expect many more experiences will be putting you on the edge of your seat, if they even did previously. I won’t be seeing many alligators and snakes, sleeping in strange places, or putting in long days where something strange is bound to happen. I have no issue with that, but I know some of my readers may be expecting something spicy to change up their morning.
I say this because I have a feeling my blogs will become more reflective of the past 68 days and less about the day-to-day aspects of my journey. I’m still not wrapping my head around what all this means to me, so I’m planning to focus on figuring that out as I approach the finish line.
I left with Marielena this morning for a short ride over the river to Portsmouth, which saved me the hassle of grabbing another ferry. We said our goodbyes and I headed out of town with some of the busy Monday morning traffic. I pedaled into another town and suddenly it seemed like the traffic disappeared and I was given a shoulder! That was not expected in Virginia as I thought the roads would be a biker-unfriendly as Maryland.
I enjoyed country road riding, my favorite scenery type, the rest of the way and came across something I haven’t seen since day 28 in Richards, Texas. HILLS! I thought I missed these guys, but turns out I was enjoying the 2,700 miles of flat riding. I took a ferry over to Jamestown to begin my ride through the Historic Triangle, which includes Yorktown and Williamsburg too. The amount of history in this neck of the woods is jaw-dropping.
Though I was too lazy to stop at all the historical markers, I did listen to the Hamilton Musical to get a larger dose of history (sorry, no shame, I’m a millennial). The ferry dropped me off at the start of the Virginia Capital Trail, which was recently built and seems to be a huge success. The trail consists of 52 miles of paved bike path through the woods and across the plantations of America’s greats (including President John Tyler). I made it to mile 42, where I met Bernard and Zac to lead me home for the night.
I officially met Bernard and Zac only a few days before my trip at Expo West with Beyond Meat. Bernard works with my dad while Zac and I decided to help out by sampling out some Beyond Sausages (in stores now, but you won’t find it because it flies off the shelf too quickly). We enjoyed an incredible meal and relaxing night, the perfect way to recover from a day on the saddle.


Jonathan (Jon) Muth

The Pennsylvania State University

Smeal College of Business College of Liberal Arts
jbmuth17@gmail.com | 443-909-6878

 

Day #67 – Kitty Hawk, NC to Norfolk, VA

May 20, 2019

Distance: 87 miles (total: 4,635 miles)

SNAP!

I jumped out of my tent after hearing the dreadful sound of my pole breaking in two. Holes can be patched, stakes can be replaced, but tent poles cannot be mended. What was I going to do?

Luckily, I was camping next to two amazing individuals who knew a bit more about tents than I did. We fumbled over different solutions for half an hour before settling on taking out the broken section of the pole and dealing with the tent being lopsided for the night. Justin, one of the two amazing individuals, knew how to un-thread and re-thread a tent pole, which I would have never thought to do. We then tied the support lines, which are designed to strengthen the tent in heavy winds and thus I should have been using them already. I didn’t bring enough stakes so I tied all four to the picnic table on the tent’s weak side. It’ll have to do for the night.

I woke up to the tent being in the same state as it was when I went to bed, so I guess our strategy worked. We agreed last night that a tent pole may not be worth the hassle to replace if my tent didn’t cost much to begin with, so this may be the end of my Lynx 2 person tent. It was too big for my solo adventures anyways. Luckily, this will be the last time I camp until I arrive in Wildwood because I know people in almost every town I’m stopping the remainder of the way.

The bike ride was a mixture of intense traffic riding and leisurely country road riding. It didn’t help that the rain came down twice during the day, but I happened to be under cover during the heavier of the two storms so I didn’t get wet. The roads, however, seemed to have trouble shaking off the rain and I needed to be extra cautious of flooding and cars trying to avoid the flooding.

I took another ferry today, and tomorrow will mark my fourth ferry in five days. I didn’t need to take this ferry and it actually brought me no closer to Norfolk than not taking it. My reasoning consisted of avoiding the most direct Outer Banks traffic considering it was Sunday and using the ferry ride would be a needed break. I put in my best biking to make sure I arrived at the ferry on time, then made PB&J on the ride over.

Riding into Norfolk meant more city traffic, which always makes my hair stand up when I have to fight with stop and go traffic for some space on no-shoulder, heavily used roads. I guess I should be use to it by now.  I will be bouncing from one big city to the next to end my trip.

I arrived at the Greek Festival to meet my host, Marielena, an alumnus of one of my Penn State organizations. We decided the first thing in store was grabbing a beer at a local brewery and catching up on all things Penn State. We then made a last-minute change to grab Indian food when I realized I’ve rarely seen any on the trip (no surprise there since I was in the south). We made it back to her place and I enjoyed an incredible relaxing night after grabbing a shower and getting my clothes washed.

One final note: Marielena reminds me of a recurring thought I’ve been meaning to write about regarding people with whom I spend the night despite never meeting before my trip.  I always surprise myself at how comfortable I become in their homes despite the little time I spend there. It helps that I spend several hours of one-on-one time with these hosts and get to know them quite well by the end of my stay. Sometimes people will ask me if I ever feel nervous staying in a stranger’s home and it’s always difficult to answer because at that point these people aren’t strangers to me. They’re genuine people who chose to house me for a night and are now considered good friends of mine. It’s an aspect of the trip I will continue to label as one of my favorites any time someone asks.